Important Questions and Answers
1. Why doesn't Damon's father "give up" and give Damon's mother custody so that Damon can live where he wants and can go back to school?
We believe that just as a parent who physically abuses a child should not have custody of that child, a parent who psychologically abuses a child should not have custody of that child. As stated by Dr. D in his July 2008 730 psychological evaluation:
It is nearly as traumatic with likely long-term negative emotional impact for children to believe that they or a sibling have been sexually abused by a parent if they have not, as it is if they had actually been molested. The mother, in her zeal to try and protect the children from the father’s abuse as she is convinced, has created an atmosphere and belief system with the children that is likely to make it extremely difficult for the children to successfully reunify with the father.
The mother appears sincere in her belief that the youngest child was molested, but it also appears that she has systematically ignored any evidence that might support a different conclusion, has taken the children into hiding for three years of their lives, and one could argue that any abuse of the children that has occurred has been at the hands of the mother in what appears to be her self-righteous zeal to shield the children from the perceived evils of the father and the court system.
In her July 2010 custody decision, Judge A was very prescient when she ruled:
Granting physical custody of Damon Moelter to Mother would be detrimental to the children as there would be a substantial danger to the child if he was in the primary care of the Mother. Mother would emotionally harm the children if they were in her custody.
There is much evidence that Ms. Dumas is psychologically abusing Damon and will continue to do so whether or not she has custody. Nor do we believe she will allow Damon to return to a normal life with school, friends, family, etc. To date Ms. Dumas has only used Damon for her own purposes to exact revenge on Damon's father and to vindicate herself as a protective mother.
While we desperately want to help Damon it would not help him to be under the legal authority of Ms. Dumas.
We also will not facilitate Ms. Dumas' attempt to set a precedent for other parents who disagree with a custody order to take the law into their own hands, abducting and alienating their children and making false allegations of abuse against the custodial parent .
2. Damon is in a bad situation now no matter who is to blame: out of school, away from family and friends. What will Mr. Moelter do to help him?
We agree. After more than a year and a half we can see that Damon has again been alienated against his father. We understand that Damon does not want to return to his life with his father, brothers and step-mother. Ironically the life he says he desperately wants to return to is the life he had with his father, brothers and step-mother. Nonetheless, there are alternative places where Damon could live and go to school - even giving guardianship to a responsible and caring third party if it will get Damon back in school . Sadly, the people who are hiding him are not seeing to it that he at least does home schooling which is what the boys did when they were abducted by Ms. Dumas for three years and three months in 2004-2008. According to one interview with Damon in August 2012 he said that he is just watching TV:
Unfortunately we do not have any means at this time to help Damon. We, including Damon's brothers, have not even been able to communicate directly with Damon since he left. Both of Damon's former attorneys, Kim Robinson and Patricia Barry, admit that they have never met Damon in person. We were told by the San Diego's DA's office that it is similar to him being in a cult; at 16 years old there's nothing they can do to help him. We can only hope that Damon will somehow come to understand the situation he is in, perhaps see this website, and take action to set himself free.
While not the ideal solution, we are supportive of emancipation because then at least Damon will not be under the legal control of Ms. Dumas. But Damon needs to take the steps to emancipate himself. It cannot be done for him. In January 2012 Damon did file for emancipation in Alameda, CA but never showed up to Court which is required. So the judge had to dismiss Damon's motion for emancipation without prejudice and moved it to the San Diego juvenile court. Since then we have tried to work with Damon's attorney, Kim Robinson, to get the paperwork filed in San Diego and get a hearing set but Ms. Dumas told Damon's oldest brother that she believed that the San Diego DA would rescind Damon's emancipation and so would not let him appear in Court.
Ms. Dumas claims there is a protective custody warrant for Damon preventing him from showing up in Court. On October 11, 2011 the judge issued a protective custody warrant for Damon but that was dismissed on January 30, 2012 by the same judge. So there is nothing to keep Damon from showing up in Court except Ms. Dumas.
We love Damon and he will always have a home with us, or a suitable responsible and caring guardian, if and when he is free to choose for himself.
3. Damon’s mother, Cindy Dumas, denies ever having coached Damon to make any of the allegations that he has and is making. So how is it possible that Damon, at 16, is making these allegations if they are not true?
One must understand that Damon, since he was six years old, has been influenced by Ms. Dumas to believe that he was sexually abused by Mr. Moelter. To understand what is meant by “influenced” we provide the July 2003 examination of the allegations by Dr. Alison Clarke-Stewart, Ph.D:
In July 2003 Dr. Alison Clarke-Stewart of Laguna Beach, CA reviewed the March 4, 2003 videotape of the forensic interview of Damon at Children’s Hospital, as well as the audiotapes of Ms. Dumas’ interviews with Damon and his brother, and several declarations filed by Ms. Dumas and Mr. Moelter. Dr. Clark-Stewart is a research professor and professor emerita of Psychology & Social Behavior at UC Irvine. She wrote in her report:
In my opinion, based on my review of these materials, what Damon felt on the night in question was the tubular metal bar of his bunk bed scraping across his back, as his dad took him out of bed to go to the toilet. I do not believe that what Damon described was sexual abuse….He gives no statement indicative of sexual abuse. He says he has come to be interviewed because once when he was at his dad’s house a hard thing went like that (he demonstrates up his back). It felt like metal scraping and it lasted 7 seconds or so. He hadn’t felt it before, and he doesn’t know what it was because he was half asleep at the time. He felt his dad’s hands on his head, but his dad didn’t make any noises, and he was not in bed with him in the morning.
This description by Damon is the most accurate record of his experience because it was administered by a trained and unbiased interviewer soon after the alleged abusive incident. Damon’s statements to his mother in her tape recorded "interviews" on 2/23/03 also indicate that Damon felt a metal thing going up the back of his body, from his bottom [Cindy’s term] to his head, and that he remembered his father touching his head.
In these "interviews" by his mother, Damon also reported that his father slept with him – however, this was in response to Cindy’s leading questions:
Cindy: Did he stay with you, in bed with you? Did he sleep with you?
Damon: I think so. I felt him on one side of me.
Cindy: So he was lying on the side of you? Was he naked?
Moreover, during the "interview" Cindy checks Damon’s bottom for rashes, implying that his experience with the metal bar and his dad could have a bad effect – and that it would show up in his bottom.
It is clear from Cindy’s statement (2/23/03) to the police that, on the basis of her "interviews" with Damon and [his brother] she is convinced that Eric abused Damon. She summarizes her interviews: “….it became apparent that defendant had climbed into top bunk bed with Damon, lay on top of him and started rubbing himself sexually along Damon’s back and backside.”
Cindy says she is terrified for [her] sons’ safety and for her own. Her fear and anxiety may be coming through to her sons as she continues to question them about their father. Evidence that her anxious questions are having an undesirable effect on Damon’s memory, I believe, appears in her [Cindy’s] declaration 5/15/03. In this declaration, she claims that Damon now says he felt the metal thing in the daytime as well as at night when he was lying on the couch with his father behind him. He also felt it in his father’s bed about three times a night every night he was with him. Damon’s account of a single incident of a metal thing waving (scraping) up his back one night at the end of February has grown and become elaborated between then and the middle of May. Damon did not have unsupervised contact [or overnight visits] with his father during this period, so these are clearly not new experiences he is reporting. Moreover, it is unlikely that his memory of earlier events has improved (memory does not improve with the passage of time), and he did not report these incidents to the forensic interviewer in March. The most likely explanation is that these new “allegations” are the product of Cindy’s continued concern about Eric’s behavior, communicated to her sons through anxious conversations. This illustrates the way suggestibility operates when children are repeatedly questioned with leading or suggestive questions.”
When Damon was interviewed at Children’s Hospital in March, he was clear and forthright about inappropriate touching. He knew it involved touching his “penis” or his “butt” and he said he would tell his mother – or father – if such touching ever occurred. He did not describe the incident (or incidents) with the “metal thing” in terms of inappropriate touching or contact with his father’s penis, although he certainly had the verbal ability to do so. Maybe this is a situation in which “a cigar is only a cigar” (or in this case a metal bar).
4. Why would Ms. Dumas do all this to Damon if he doesn't need protecting from Mr. Moelter?
We believe that Ms. Dumas is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Mr. Moelter was married to Ms. Dumas for twelve years. She exhibits many of the characteristics of a person with BPD as provided in the book The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder.
The BP makes jaw-dropping interpretations, assumptions, and inferences that may bear little resemblance to reality.
The BP jumps to conclusions...The BP dismisses contrary supporting facts.
The BP not only dismisses contrary supporting facts but also thrashes, mutilates, and pummels them into submission. The BP will not be held accountable for anything.
The BP's catastrophizing can lead to poor, rash decisions or dangerous actions, such as self-harm or suicide attempt. Small molehills become Mt. Everest.
Here is YouTube video that helps to better understand how a parent with Borderline Personality Disorder can alienate children from the other parent.
While we believe that Ms. Dumas' primary agenda is to take revenge on Mr. Moelter by trying to get him prosecuted for child molestation and to vindicate herself as a protective parent, it is possible that because of her BPD she has come to believe her own allegations.
Unfortunately our case is not isolated. Here are three other tragic cases that closely parallel what has happened to our family:
- What Really Happened in the Holly Collins Custody Case
A father's tragic story
Listen to one parent’s struggle to maintain a normal, loving relationship with his young son in the face of overwhelming odds.
The Children of Gordon and Tiffany
A quote from a reader of the Family Heartbreak book:
“[This account] shows how quickly a child’s mind can be stolen away. Few people realize how suggestible children are to being brainwashed and how quickly adults can have their lives stolen away from them. Parental alienation is cult behavior with the toxic parent being the cult leader. We need to realize that the disturbed, mentally ill parent who sabotages a child’s loving relationship with the child’s other parent will make all kinds of false allegations to deflect attention from him or her and on to the healthy parent. All of us must educate ourselves and find solutions for this terrible problem.” - Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.
5. Didn't the American Psychiatric Association reject parental alienation as a disorder?
Parental Alienation Disorder is defined as:
A mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification.
While the American Psychiatric Association rejected parental alienation disorder [syndrome] as a distinct mental illness it has been well documented that some parents have and do practice parental alienation by negatively influencing their children's attitude toward the other parent to the point where the relationship with the other parent is severely or irreversibly damaged:
- Parental Alienation Awareness Organization
Facts and Tips
Dealing with an Obsessed Alienator
Divorce Casualties: Understanding Parental Alienation
A key sign that a child has been alienated is that the child has a lack of independent thinking imitating the alienator’s thoughts and feelings.
While we do understand that sometimes the label of parental alienation can be misused, and even abused, parental alienation has been clearly established in our case:
- Dr. M October 2003 Custody Evaluation report to the court:
There are no current issues regarding alienation and contamination, although it must be noted that Ms. Dumas’s belief system is so adamant and fixed that it is possible that she may develop a style of contamination in her communication with the children.
- The boys' Minors' attorney's report to the Court November 2004:
There is no doubt in my mind that this dramatic deterioration in the boys’ relationship with their father is a direct result of the mother’s obsession with the sexual molestation issues that first arose in early 2003. The mother continues to believe that the father molested Damon and that he is a clear and present danger to Damon and the other boys’ safety.
- Dr. D 730 Family Psychological Evaluation report to the court July 2008:
The mother appears sincere in her belief that the youngest child was molested, but it also appears that she has systematically ignored any evidence that might support a different conclusion....one could argue that any abuse of the children that has occurred has been at the hands of the mother in what appears to be her self-righteous zeal to shield the children from the perceived evils of the father and the court system.
Damon's brothers are the ultimate evidence (see Q&A 6 below).
6. Damon has two older brothers. Where are they and what do they think of all this?
Damon's older brothers now 18 and 20 have been living full time with Mr. Moelter and his wife since October 2009. They are currently attending college as freshman and sophomore. They are very well adjusted and have a wonderful relationship with Mr. Moelter and his wife. Ms. Dumas rarely sees or contacts them by her own choice.
The oldest is very clear that he believes that his mother significantly influenced him over time to say things that weren't true and do things that he didn't want to because he wanted to please his mother. He also believes that she significantly influenced Damon to say and then believe that he was abused by his father. He does not believe that Mr. Moelter abused Damon. He says that Damon, during the period between 2010 and 2011 when Damon was living with his father, brothers, and step-mother, told him in confidence that he liked his life and that he felt safe.
Damon's middle brother believes that his mother is committed to the belief that his father abused his brother. He no longer believes this or that his father is going to kill him, his brothers and his mother. He desperately wants to have a normal relationship with his mother. He is happy when he meets with her, on rare occasions, and she is interested in him and his life and not "the case".
Both brothers are very upset and worried that Damon is being kept from his life, especially school. They love him and miss him dearly.
7. Damon claims that his father will send him to a torture camp to make him recant if he returns because he is speaking out about the alleged abuse. Is that true?
Ms. Dumas uses fear to keep control over Damon as she did with Damon and his brothers during their abduction period in 2004-2008. At that time she told the boys that their father threatened to kill her and the boys and, according to Damon, Damon's hamster "Hammie". Ms. Dumas has been using the torture camp threat since 2009 via her website. This webpage, letters to Damon is a more recent version of that threat that was posted a few months after Damon went into hiding. The page was taken down shortly after it was posted.
Damon’s public accusations of abuse are not new. At Dumas’ insistence in the spring of 2010 before Damon lived with his father full time Damon made four videos accusing his father of abuse which were posted on YouTube. Two videos were targeted at Dr. Phil, video #1 and video #2. At that time Dumas was petitioning Dr. Phil to be on his show. A third video Damon targeted at President Obama in support of a May 2010 Mother’s Day Whitehouse protest in which Dumas participated. The fourth video Damon made in support of a petition organized by Dumas. Dumas’ photo can be seen at the lower left corner of each of these videos. The same photo can be seen on her YouTube “SavingDamon” site and in a screenshot from a video of a San Diego court protest in which she participated in 2009. In May 2010 during a scheduled unsupervised weekend visit Dumas took Damon to Los Angeles to be interviewed by a publication about his abuse.
If Damon's father had any intention of sending Damon to a deprogramming camp to quiet Damon he had ample opportunity while Damon was under his sole legal and physical custody from July 2010 to July 2011. Quite the contrary, Damon's father did everything in his power to replace Damon's fears by providing Damon and his brothers with a normal, stable and loving environment including public school, ample time with friends and family, encouragement of outside activities including participation in school plays, sports, Ninjutsu, fantasy fiction writing, etc. The family also took many trips to expose the boys to experiences that they had missed out on over the past six years including Alaska, Joshua Tree, Zion, concerts and skiing. The only camp that Damon attended under his father's care was tennis camp. Despite these efforts and the outward appearance that Damon had replaced his mother's persona of himself as an abuse victim with a normal, engaged teenager, Damon continued to be exposed to Ms. Dumas and her agenda during unsupervised visits which had increased to every other weekend and every Wednesday evening. Damon's brothers for the most part went infrequently to these visits because of other activities including after-school jobs and spending time with friends.
8. Why did the police and CPS investigations end in a finding of "inconclusive" rather than "unfounded"?
As part of their initial investigation the police gave Mr. Moelter a lie detector test. Mr. Moetler voluntarily agreed to take the test against the advice of his attorney because he knew he had nothing to hide and was told that if he took the test he would be able to visit with his boys that afternoon.
The results of the test showed that Mr. Moelter showed to be "deceptive" on two questions:
- "Did you rub your penis against Damon's body?"
- "While Damon was sleeping did you rub your penis?"
As a result of the test result the police served Mr. Moelter with a temporary restraining order brought by Ms. Dumas which prevented him from seeing his sons. The police also put Mr. Moelter on the California Child Abuse Central Index. He was not charged with anything.
A subsequent lie detector test conducted by Jack Trimarco, former Program Manager for the FBI Polygaph Unit at Los Angeles Field Office, on July 3, 2008 concluded that "Eric Moelter was telling the truth when he answered the relevant questions:
- A. Have you ever touched Damon for sexual purposes? (Answered: No)
B. Have you ever touched Damon for sexual purposes since he was born? (Answered: No)"
Furthermore, Mr. Trimarco disagreed with how the original polygraph test was conducted and the validity of the results, stating in his declaration:
In my opinion, the [original questions that were asked by the police in 2003] are far too broad to ensure an accurate reading of truth by polygraph in this case....Because of the multitude of innocent possibilities of either ever occurring, an answer of 'no' in reply to questioning about a specific incident would naturally appear deceptive. Said questions were poorly phrased and should have been disregarded in any polygraph analysis.
As a result of this finding Detective B, five years later, removed Mr. Moelter from the California Child Abuse Central Index. Mr. Moelter was only one of two individuals among tens of thousands on the index to be removed from this index before the ten year expiration.
Mr. Trimarco was the Program Manager for the FBI Polygaph Unit at Los Angeles Field Office from 1990 until his retirement in 1998. He is the former Inspector General for the Department of Energy Polygraph Program (2000-2002) and is currently a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the California Association of Polygraph Examiners.
9. Why didn't Mr. Moelter tell any of this to F ox L.A. News when they interviewed him?
Mr. Moelter and Damon's brothers made all of this information, documentation and evidence available to the producers of Fox L.A. including Robin Sax and Martin Burns. However, not surprisingly given the title of the series "Lost in the System", Fox L.A. chose to show only selective segments of Mr. Moelter's and Damon's brother's interviews that minimized the inconsistency with Damon's story. It was a very disappointing, if not unexpected, experience. Kathleen Russell, who brought Damon's story to Fox L.A.'s attention, has been called out in this article for using Damon's predicament for her own suspect purpose without regard for the truth:
Unfortunately, there are organizations that will champion the cause of one mother who is actually an alienator or outright child abductor, while waving the banner as if to protect all abused children. One such organization is the California Protective Parents Association run by Connie Valentine. Another is the Center for Judicial Excellence, led by Kathleen Russell. These organizations have chosen to use the outrage against court corruption to attract sympathy for one mother named Cindy Dumas and her son Damon.
We hope other news media outlets treat this case with the care and seriousness that it deserves.